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Metze or starters

Little snacks are popular with me on Cribbit, make them a bit bigger and they can become a small meal in themselves, even a maincourse. Listed below are the opposite! Maincourses and accompaniments that made small can become a metze.




Asparagus



From Live Journal May. 26th, 2005, 09:15 am

http://tryfan43.livejournal.com/

"I'm best at buttered eggs", 'Are you really' said Mrs. Jackson, 'most folks are best at boiled', "Oh well, I don't count boiled", said Susan.

Well that's as maybe but I like to read Sam Pepys and this is what he had to say on the subject: 'He himself made a dish with eggs of the butter of the Sparagus, which is very fine meat, which I will practise hereafter. '

Now that sounded pretty good to me too, especially as I have had sparrowgrass almost every day in May, and was looking for an alternate way of doing it.

I've had it:

  • boiled in acidulated water
  • as a pizza topping
  • asparagus sandwiches...excellent!! hot sparrowgrass laid between slices of buttered brown bread
  • baked with parmesan cheese and garlic
  • baked with the tips covered by a pastry case, almost a sparrowgrass wellington!!

But tonight I had them in the Pepysian way and they were most excellent!!! And here is how you do it:

And to paraphrase Mrs. Beaton: First get your asparagus, and that means be quick because the season is nearly over.

  • Now chop into 2cm pieces, shorter at the bottom, longer as they get thinner.
  • Melt a large knob of butter in a pan and gently cook the sparrowgrass in the butter taking care not to let it get too hot and turn black
  • Meanwhile whisk up some eggs in a separate bowl, add a dash of milk and a good grinding of pepper
  • Pour into the butter mix when the sparagus is ready and keep on agitating with a fork until the eggs are scrambled
  • Serve on hot brown bread un-buttered toast

I suppose that asparagus should come with some sort of disclaimer and in trying to find a 'nice' way to put this I Googled up what these days is refered to as 'too much information' but this Notes and Queries entry from the Guardian says it all [and more].

The entry in Wikkipedia is especially good and I've stolen the pic below from Molecules with Silly or Unusual Names as much to introduce you to this excellent website as to illustrate the recipe.

basparagus
Asparagine




Bunggie Prawns

Some time ago, Thomas and I went to the Ho Lee restaurant near to the All Saints DLR station. We had just got back from making passage from Bow Lock to Poplar Dock and we were in the mood for something hot and spicy to eat.

Ho Lee restaurant menu

Ho Lee restaurant menu
On the menu we found something that they called 'Bunggie Prawns'

They sounded like just what we wanted, so that is what we ordered.

A little later our waitress came back and asked us if we REALLY wanted them as they were very HOT. This sounded even better to us so yes we did! When they arrived to table they turned out to be large prawns stuffed into hot green peppers.

Lately we have been having a go at replicating something similar ourselves. I made a hot pizza with pepperoni and prawn stuffed peppers and Thomas decided to stuff small jalfresi peppers with shrimp. By all accounts this version was a bit powerful and now he is planning on stuffing scotch bonnet peppers with them - good luck to him!

For New Year's eve [2007] I decided to make a variety of hor d'eurves and bunggie prawns in a sweet and sour sauce was one of them. These turned out to be very popular.

Bunggie Prawns

Ingredients

  • What Thomas calls 'supermarket' hot green peppers [the larger sort] although mine were a £1 bowl from East Ham Market
  • Jumbo prawns
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Shrimp
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Pineapple
  • Onions
  • garlic crushed
  • Bajun, Lingham's [or other] hot sauce
  • Wine vinegar
  • Salt, pepper, sugar

Decapacitate the peppers and carefully cut out the seeds and fibrous bits. Fry the peppers in olive oil until soft and reserve. Fry the onions, garlic and then add the fresh tomatoes and reduce. Add the chopped tomatoes, pinapple, bajun sauce, wine vinegar and sugar. Stir like a spaghetti sauce. Meanwhile, stuff a jumbo prawn into each pepper. Break off the tail end to get a tight fit if necessary.

Put them into the sauce as they are stuffed, stir with care from now on as they will try to escape.

Throw in a handful of shrimp and either serve immediately or finish off in the oven if it is on.

There seems to be some confusion about the words shrimp and prawn [although not with me]. To me a prawn is just a big shrimp as I am told that 'jumbo' prawns, prawns and shrimp are all the same species just that some are bigger than others.

In the Antipodes and Americas it is the other way round and it is the prawns that are the small ones and shrimp the larger ones. Also in these places it is customary to buy the large ones in quantity and then throw them on the barbi. I pressume that this is why I was subjected to much ridicule when I once asked for three prawns for our BBQ in a New Hampshire supermarket.



Champignons à l'Ail (Garlic Mushrooms)

Method 1

Ingredients

  • small closed cup white mushrooms
  • butter
  • garlic crushed

Put a big lump of butter in a small pan and add an approximately equal quantity of cold water. Heat the pan until the butter melts and then drop in the garlic.

Simmer for a few moments and then put in the mushrooms. Simmer uncovered very gently for about 10 minutes so that the butter and water foams into a smooth sauce and some of the water evaporates away. The trick is that the mushrooms are not fried as they seem to be but boiled in the buttery sauce. Serve hot.

Champignons à l'Ail (Garlic Mushrooms) Method 2

Ingredients

  • small closed cup white mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • garlic crushed

Fry the garlic in the oil with pepper, add the mushrooms and fry until they are nicely browned all over.

These look much more attractive and have a nicer texture than those done by method 1 but don't taste as much of a garlic as frying garlic destroys its flavour.



Hummous[or something amusing for lunch]

Ingredients

  • 1 can chick peas
  • 1 tablespoon of Tahini, [sesame seed paste]
  • garlic
  • lemons
  • olive oil/toasted sesame seed oil
  • salt and pepper

Drain a can of chick peas but don't throw away the water they were packed in. Crush the peas to death with a pestle and mortar. [or run them through the food processor] [For some reason, tw always refers to these as bum beans]

Add a generous tablespoonful of tahini, the juice and zest of the lemon and a crushed garlic clove [optional]

Mix all together and add some of the pea water you reserved earlier to counter the drying effect of the tahini. Finish off by adding the olive oil to give a nice consistency.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Variations

This is much better made with the toasted sesame seed oil. [Reasonably priced when bought from Lidl's.]
Use crushed hot peppers, Anconia sauce or something else with a bit of a bite for a spicy version.
Whole sesame seeds are good instead of the tahini, or miss it out altogether.
Use broad beans for a different flavour, and coloured version.



Fassallata, or Butter Beans

Italian style

Ingredients

  • Canned butter beans [Lidl's are best]
  • garlic
  • onions
  • mushrooms [optional]
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • lots of pepper [optional]
  • fresh tomato [optional]
  • mange tout

This is a favourite mid-week meal with me but also good as a little tapas.

Cut an onion into small pieces, add any other optional ingredients,crush two large garlic cloves and sweat in olive oil. Add a drained can of butter beans and cook until some of the beans start to disintegrate and the olive oil no longer looks oily. Add salt to taste and lots of freshly ground pepper.

Best eaten the night before you have to do staff disciplinaries.

Serve hot or cold.

Fassallata

Greek style

This is really a bean stew.

Ingredients

  • Different sorts of bean either canned or prepared the day before by boiling etc
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • garlic
  • stock

This is best made with a meat stock of some sort. Get hold of some old bones or cheap chicken or other meat and boil them up for half a day. Strain, keep the stock and give the bones and meat to the dog who will love you.

Skim off the fatty bits [much easier if you allow it to go cold], adjust the seasoning and add the ingredients to the stock and simmer until the celery is edible. I doubt the celery is very Greek but I like it.

Serve with lemon juice.

This is also good made with chopped up French sausage instead of the stock in which case I suppose it becomes a Cassoulet.

Feijao

Jordi gave me this recipe which is a Brazilian staple and fits in well with the other versions of bean stews to be found in these pages under the heading of fassallata. Jordi's recipe fitted in well to my way of doing things being mostly a list of possible ingredients and a few instructions. This is a simple and non-critical recipe so do your own thing. One thing Jordi was insistent upon was that it should contain MEAT. Just what sort of meat didn't matter and hot sausages do just as well. So a bit of a rummage in the freezer, the refrigerator and the store cupboard came up with the following ingredients, but add whatever you have hanging around that needs using up. I used a 50:50 mix of pinto and black eyed beans, 250g of each which need to be soaked overnight. I had a pack of belly pork left over from Christmas which had been intended for Boston Baked Beans but somehow got reprieved.

Ingredients

  • 500g different sorts of bean either canned or prepared the day before by boiling etc
  • 750g Meat, eg belly pork
  • Celery
  • 2 Onions
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Soak the beans overnight, well covered with water. Next day, in a large pan, fry up the belly pork in some olive oil until well browned. Trim of the rind and fat and then add the onions and garlic and chase around a bit until the onions are translucent. Add the beans and water to just cover them and then simmer the lot for a couple of hours or so. Give it a stir now and again and don't let it boil dry. Thats it! Serve with brown rice or just as it is.



Tsatziki

Ingredients

  • Cucumber
  • Thick full-fat Greek yoghurt
  • Crushed garlic
  • Dried oregano
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

This is quite tricky to get right in England where the cucumbers are very wet and the Greek yoghurt much more liquid than the strained yoghurt available in Greece. Greek cucumbers seem to be as dry as courgettes.

Strain the yoghurt, if you can, in a very fine sieve.

Peel the cucumber and then cut in half longitudinally. Scrape out all the seeds using a teaspoon. Then cut into thin longitudinal strips, turn through 90 degrees and chop transversely to give small cubes of cucumber.

Put in a sieve and sprinkle with salt and leave as long as possible to drain and dry out. Lay out on paper towels, squeeze and dry.

Crush some of the garlic and chop the rest into small pieces. Use more than you would think, and grind in some pepper. Mix with the cucumber and add the dried oregano. [Dried oregano helps to mop up moisture]

If doing this in Greece .... just do it!

Mix with the Greek yoghurt and stir in olive oil to make a thick paste.



Oysters

Ingredients

  • 4 Oysters
  • Crushed small garlic clove
  • butter
  • a small handful of cockles
  • one cockle measure of breadcrumbs
  • one cockle measure of parsley

Mix the breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic and butter, then add the cockles.

Open the oysters, they will fight you hard over this, lay them in a grill pan and distribute the mixture between them. Grill until browned and hot. Serve immediately.

Aim to add about the same volume of topping as the volume of the oyster meat.



Cauliflower Cheese

This is a good 'mid-week' meal with homefries. We invited Alex for a meal when we lived at Owley Wood Road and had broccoli cheese. Much more tasty than cauliflower I think, and this one was especially so as it was proudly home grown in our garden. It also had a lot of extra protein as the cabbage white had been busy and although I had removed what I thought were all the caterpillars, once the broccoli hit the cheese sauce out came hundreds of green caterpillars. The Nib has never recovered or forgiven.

Ingredients

  • Cauliflower or err broccoli
  • mushrooms
  • onion
  • mousetrap cheddar
  • milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour
  • salt and pepper

Split the cauliflower into florets.

Throw in a large pan, with the mushrooms and onion and sprinkle in flour to well coat the cauliflower. Add a little of the milk, turn up the heat and stir all together. As the sauce thickens, add more milk to cool and adjust the thickness. Care is needed not to scorch the bottom but also to get the cauliflower to release its water. The aim is to get the cauliflower cooked without being soft and not to get caught out with a watery sauce from the additional water the cauliflower releases as it cooks. Try and keep the sauce as thick as possible so that you are only just able to stir it.

When the cauliflower is cooked to you liking, add the cheese and continue stirring until it is well mixed in. The sauce is likely to thin down now on its own but if it remains too thick, add some extra milk to correct.

Serve with homefries.



Smoked salmon or mackerel paté

pate

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 piece smoked mackerel or pack of smoked salmon bits
  • oatmeal, either use 1/4 of the volume or 10% of the weight of the fish
  • salt and pepper
  • white wine
  • milk

This is dead easy! Chop up the fish into smallish bits with a sharp knife and mix in about a quarter as much oatmeal as there is fish, add milk, white wine, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Milk might not be needed if you are generous with the wine and lemon. You need enough liquid for the oats, usually this is about 4 times their volume but check what it says on your packet. [ie the volume of liquid is the same as the volume of the fish!!!]

Put in a pate dish bake in the oven if it is on or in a double boiler if not for 30 minutes or so.



Salmon and avocado

avocado

This quantity should produce about 10 servings.

Ingredients

  • 500g avocado, 5 small or 3 larger ones approx
  • 400g cooked salmon
  • 200g smoked salmon, to line mould
  • 4 teaspoons of horseradish sauce
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Squeeze the lemons into a mixing bowl and then add the flesh of the avocados. The lemon juice should stop them from turning brown while you work. The avocados should be a mixture of recognisable pieces and their mashed pulp. How much effort is required to do this will depend on how ripe they are, if very ripe,treat with care, if under ripe they may need beating or mashing. Aim to get a mixture of pulp and bigger bits.

Mix in the cooked salmon, horseradish, chopped basil and other seasoning, to taste.

Find a suitable container to serve as a mould for the finished product. I use a shallow serving dish with a volume of 700ml.
Line the mould with cling film and then with the strips of smoked salmon so that the whole dish is lined with smoked salmon, leave the ends of the salmon overlapping the sides of the bowl.
Fill the mould with the avocado and salmon mix, pressing well down and leveling off.
Fold the ends of the smoked salmon back over the avocado mix and refrigerate.
This is easy to make the night before and leave over night in the refrigerator.
Turn out onto a plate before serving and garnishing appropriately.
To serve, cut across the middle with a sharp knife and then cut into portion slices. This is much easier to do if the mould is not too deep.
OR make up into individual cup moulds and serve separately. This will give fewer servings than the bulk method.

Serve with what I call Melba Toast. That is bread that has been toasted in the toaster twice so is hard and crunchy.



Pate en Croute

Encroute

Ingredients: Filling:

  • 1 partridge
  • 1 partridge worth of chicken
  • 1 partridge worth of boiling bacon
  • parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • scotch
  • shallots
  • garlic clove
  • small hot pepper

Pastry:

  • 3 partridge units of flour
  • 1 partridge unit of butter
  • salt
  • pepper

Well Ok this is probably more a Terrine en Croute but who is asking?

What you get is a pastry case filled with meaty bits. So, it's in two parts, the filling and the pastry.

First of all you do the filling:

You need some gamey bird, some chicken and some boiling bacon. The unit of measurement here is the game, eg one partridge unit. You need one partridge unit of each. If the bird bits are raw, boil them in a minimum of water until the meat can easily be removed from the bone, otherwise combine cooked meat. [No need to boil the bacon]

Chop the lot into bits and combine with a partridge worth of chopped parsley, garlic clove, shallot, hot pepper, salt and two eggs. Oh and add a shot of scotch to the lot. [I used Glenmorangue last time which would be regarded as sacrilege in some quarters, but any strong flavoured booze should do]. This should give a fairly sloppy mix.

Now prepare the pastry:

Use a partridge worth of butter and add 3 times its volume of flour.

Grind pepper into the mix until you are tired, add some salt and a handful extra of flour.

See the pastry section for hints on making the pastry. Pastry

Roll out the pastry.

Find a cylindrical container that looks as though it will hold it all. [Needs to be 'relieved' so that it can come out of the pastry shell.]

Cut out two circular pieces of pastry with the wide end of the container.

Form a cylinder of pastry round the container, release and then attach to one of the pastry disks using a little water to help the bind.

Tip in the meat mixture and tamp well down. Mixture should be about one radius below the top of the cylinder. Now cut dovetail joints in the pastry so that a top is formed all around the circumference. You will be left with a hole in the middle, cover this with the second pastry disk and seal with water as before.

Glaze with a bit of egg yolk if you have remembered to save a bit back!

Of course you will have pre-heated the oven to 200 C and you will tolerate no interruptions once the soggy meat mix hits the pastry. Work as fast as you can to get the damn thing into the oven. You can then relax for 90 minutes or so, although you can probably drop the temperature to 180 C for the last hour.


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